Monday, August 18, 2014

To the Kid in the Kia

I've written many times on my love of travel and the fact that, when cars are driving down the interstate, everyone is sort of alone and there isn't normally social interaction between the occupants of the cars. In other words, the car is a safe place for the fourth wall to stay intact. However, yesterday I had the briefest of breeches of the fourth wall that left me almost gasping for breath.

I was headed home from the USAC.25 race in Kalamazoo, Michigan and the drive started off slow with multiple accidents slowing my progress. I lost over two hours in these delays so I was highly frustrated. Somewhere near Chicago later on I was driving and listening to a song that, well, okay I may have been a little excited and it was obvious I was singing along, and as a car was passing me to my left I glanced over and just happened to make eye contact with a kid, perhaps a teen, in the rear passenger seat.

If you've seen my presentation you know eye contact is something that is difficult for me and even more so in random situations where a social interaction arises. Again, this is why I like driving in a car because eye contact is typically difficult. However, here, eye contact was made and what the kid did next set of a mental storm of activity.

As eye contact was made the kid immediately raised his hand and waved in a friendly manner. I had never come across this and instantly I felt a wondering connection to this kid. I thought about who he was, what type of parents he has, and what type of person he will become. This was identical to the way I described a trip to Taco Bell during my sunglasses experiment in that this wasn't just another car on the road as I see it as it can be overwhelming to think of all the people on the road and that each person has his or her own story, but in that Kia beside me was a person who had just reached out with a friendly gesture of his hand and to me he became real.

This, right here, is one of the reasons random eye contact is hard. The amount of thought flooding my brain was hard to process. Emotions I usually stave off were flooding in and a feeling of empathy in that we're both two people on this blue Earth and he'll never know my story and I'll never know his was hard.

What was just a few tenths of a second had more thoughts than I normally have in an hour. I didn't know what to do as my emotions were at a point of overflowing. I also realized the seemingly absurd nature of these emotions, but if people aren't real around me then there is no thought of them. This is why I look down when walking as if I make that eye contact, and there's an interaction like this, I will have not a lack of emotions or empathy as some experts state people on the autism spectrum have but rather too much.

The time in my brain made it feel as if a minute had gone passed and I was now feeling rude because I had to respond, right? So what I did was I gave a slight grin and I nodded. It was silent, obviously, but in my nod I said so much, at least in my brain, "To the kid in the Kia beside me who broke the fourth wall I wish you the best. I do not know you, but you took the time to be friendly when I was rather frustrated. You'll never read what I'm going to write about this but your simple act of kindness was exactly what I needed. It's odd how just one brief moment of eye contact and one simple wave of the hand can create so many thoughts, but that's how life works and you once again showed me this. Again, I wish you the best for the future and I hope your life turns out to be great."

I knew this was going to be a blog post as I gave my nod hence the wording in the paragraph, and as the Kia drove on down the road I felt the same way I did with this Chevy Cobalt in 2010. This time though, unlike that one, eye contact had been made and this time it was like losing a friend I had for one tenth of a second. That may not sound like a big deal, but when I lose anything it is a big deal.

It felt odd to have such a response to this as I drove onward. There can be people all around me and as a defense I have to minimize my interactions with them (this excludes when I am in "Alias" mode) but when the line gets crossed, and I understand that the person is real, the elements put forth in this blog comes out.

As the sun set in the west as I was now on I-55 I wondered if normal people experience this fleeting moment of kinship with a person in that we are all human, we all have a story to write, and we all have hopes and dreams? I'm not sure if it is or not but when those emotions get triggered for me it is nothing short of an overwhelming experience.

1 comment:

  1. Just remember your Auntie M drives a Kia Soul and you will be able to ride in it soon. Nice thoughts associated with the kid in the kia.